Etymythology of posh, P. O. S. H.

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Sep 12 16:53:47 UTC 2011

Here is an example with "posh" [noun], "poshy" [adj.] from G-books
(1915) (this has been quoted by Dave Wilton):

<<Posh may be defined, very roughly, as a useless striving after
gentlemanly culture. Sometimes a chauffeur or an H.Q. clerk would
endeavour to speak very correct English in front of Spot. / "'E was
poshy, my dear boy, positively poshy. 'E made me shiver until I cried.
'Smith, old man,' I said to 'im, 'you can't do it. You're not born to it
nor bred to it. Those that try is just demeaning themselves. Posh, my
dear boy, pure Posh.'">>

I think this item could be adduced to support original "posh" = "polish".

However one could also imagine this "posh" as derived directly from
Romany (= "half") (cf. "posh and posh" = "half and half" which was used
in reference to persons of mixed (half-Romany) ancestry and also to
speech which mixed English and Romany). In this case it might be
"halfway between upper and lower class" or something like that.

And of course the 'default' hypothesis (from "posh" = "money") would
still be consistent also.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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